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One Cable Technology - from zero to hero

04 September 2017

Even the most revolutionary and beneficial technologies can take years to become endemic in machine design and production. The rapid take-up of one-cable feedback for servo motors and drives is one technology bucking this trend.

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There’s little doubt that HIPERFACE DSL (Digital-Servo-Link) technology has been revolutionary. Since it was introduced by SICK in 2011, it has been rapidly integrated into the products of more than 40 major servo drive and motor manufacturers including many major brand names.

Now tried, tested and field proven in applications all over the world, HIPERFACE DSL is widely recognised as the industry standard in One Cable Technology and the leading standard protocol for digital feedback systems.

In the next stage of its development, SICK announced in June that it is opening up the proprietary interface it invented for use by any drive or motor manufacturer, a move which will is set to make HIPERFACE DSL an open market standard. 

With the security of an open and field-proven interface, it seems likely the industry will see yet more extensive machine development and innovation and, in future, the interfaces needed to support servo drives will be minimised.

Already major manufacturers have accelerated integration of HIPERFACE DSL digital feedback capability into their product development. In turn, OEM machine builders have been able to optimise costs and space utilisation in their machines.  Machine users have benefitted from an improvement in plant availability due to the reduction in failure points and the extensive condition monitoring capabilities of systems using HIPERFACE DSL.

Principles of One Cable Technology

Encoders are fundamental to the operation and control of a servo motor axis, delivering high-resolution feedback about the angular rotation for speed regulation and positioning the servo axis precisely through multiple revolutions. Analogue communication with the encoder can typically require an eight, ten, twelve or even fourteen-core data feedback cable. In addition, a power cable which also incorporates twin cores for temperature sensing is also needed. The cabling is bulky, taking up valuable machinery and control cabinet space. 

HIPERFACE DSL enables reliable data transfer between drive and motor via two wires which are directly integrated into the motor cable of up to 100m in length. The HIPERFACE DSL digital interface is so robust that the twisted pair, traditionally used for the temperature winding sensor in the cores of a standard motor power cable, can be used for the communication of feedback data to the drive. This makes the bulky, multi-core feedback cable redundant.

Electric drives featuring motor feedback systems and an integrated HIPERFACE DSL interface have a distinctive outward appearance with just one motor connector. 

Data transmission and condition monitoring

HIPERFACE DSL offers motor and drive suppliers, mechanical engineers and end customers both technical and economic advantages, particularly for continuous condition monitoring.

With HIPERFACE DSL the feedback system records and measures a wide range of data such as current consumption, revolutions, speed, temperature and any changes to these parameters. They can be easily read via the drive in the form of a usage histogram and can be used to derive information about the status and anticipated development of drive and machine conditions. 

HIPERFACE DSL also supports the functionality of the electronic type label for automatic drive configuration. Motor specifications, serial numbers and part numbers, and other configuration data are stored and used to adjust the drive to the motor parameters automatically and when servicing is required.

This information enables plant operators and maintenance engineers to plan maintenance more effectively, enabling increased plant availability and reducing machine downtime. In the case of drives connected to the Internet, the data log can be remotely accessed by engineering teams located anywhere in the world, providing opportunities for enhanced plant support. 

Building in machine benefits

Servo drives are reducing in size due to a reduction in the connectors, cables, and peripheral device hardware required. One-cable technology is of major importance for applications where drives move on the axis, as a smaller size and lower weight mean less kinetic energy take-up. 

Machine manufacturers therefore have the advantage of downsizing the drive without reducing the machine's performance. With multiple drives in automated machinery, the overall drive technology can be made significantly cheaper with one-cable feedback and, as less space is taken up, savings can be made with smaller and less expensive control cabinets. 

New drives for improved efficiency and cost

SICK HIPERFACE DSL is opening up exciting opportunities for machine builders to develop more compact, efficient and reliable machines, while motor and drive suppliers develop new products that incorporate one-cable feedback technology. 

The digital interface meets all the requirements for the condition-oriented maintenance of machines in the Industry 4.0 environment. Open access to the interface technology will see even more rapid take up of the technology. 

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